Growth Fueling Pessimism and Sentiment to Break Up California

Published on July 24th, 2014

California is not exempt from the pessimism about politics, and anxiety about the future, that has entrenched itself throughout America. Californians’ perceived distance from politicians in Sacramento and Washington D.C. is now significant, and likely made worse by current population growth. Naturally as numbers surge, the voices of individuals matter less, and reaching a consensus on policy becomes more difficult. Frustration with government and “unrepresentative” representatives has driven at least 1,300,000 Californians to call for an end to their state.

Indicative of the deep dissatisfaction with today’s political leadership, the Six Californias Ballot Initiative recently gathered enough signatures to get on the 2016 ballot. As the name suggests, the initiative is devoted to breaking California into six separate states. A Six Californians spokeswoman vocalizes the popular disillusionment with politics, saying, “California has grown ungovernable – be it Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jerry Brown as governor – (and) the problems we face are too ingrained to be fixed in Sacramento.”

Venture Capitalist Tim Draper started the Six Californias Initiative. Draper thinks that smaller states will make it easier to adjust the education system, improve water management and infrastructure, and bring about traffic solutions. He believes though that the strongest argument for the break-up is more efficient representation. Draper wants to give California’s regions the freedom to represent their interests, be it addressing tech-specific concerns in Silicon Valley or water rights in other parts of California, for example. Regardless of Six Californias’ merits or likelihood of passing, the dissatisfaction that many have with the status quo is clear.

The State of Jefferson movement is yet another effort to break apart California. First conceived in 1941, interrupted by World War II, and now gaining momentum once again, the movement seeks statehood for a group of rural northern counties. State of Jefferson advocates see California’s three major urban centers as politically dominating and unresponsive to rural concerns, so they are fighting for greater autonomy. Under California’s current growth dynamic, the rural perspective is destined to be perpetually overpowered by larger voting blocs. The State of Jefferson movement highlights that many holders of minority views and interests now want greater control over their own destiny.

These anti-establishment groups share the view that people are not being efficiently or sufficiently represented. Californians want their voices heard just like any other people, but time and time again politicians have acted contrary to the wishes of their constituents on the topic of growth. And the still unfolding border crisis has been validating concerns about poorly run government. Politicians’ mismanagement of the crisis and disregard for popular opinion on growth are creating a bad situation for all.

With the population growth trends in place, it is very unlikely that Californians will feel closer to their government anytime soon. Few see the best years ahead if nothing changes, and many are searching for an alternative.


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